The Princess Myrna is a child. I am assuming the position of Regent and Prince-Protector of the Realm." There was a little difficulty on Gimli with Fleet Admiral Bargham. Commodores didn't give orders to fleet admirals. Well, maybe regents did, but who gave Prince Bentrik authority to call himself regent? Regents were elected by the Chamber of Delegates, on nomination of the Chancellor.

It would still take four hours to get down, in a spiral of deceleration. They started the telecasts which had been filmed and taped on the voyage from Gimli. The Prince-Protector Simon Bentrik spoke: The illegal rule of the traitor Makann was ended. His deluded followers were advised to return to their allegiance to the Crown.

"And I noticed the use of the word 'rule, instead of 'reign." "That's right," the self-proclaimed Prince-Protector said. "There's something wrong with democracy. If there weren't, it couldn't be overthrown by people like Makann, attacking it from within by democratic procedures. I don't think it's fundamentally unworkable. I think it just has a few of what engineers call bugs.

Your Highness, I mean; what is this Prince-Protector thing?" "Somebody had to do it. Is the King still alive?" The grin slid off the commodore's face, starting with his eyes. "We don't know. At first, Makann had him speaking by screen you know what it was like urging everybody to obey and co-operate with 'our trusted Chancellor. Makann always appeared on the screen with him." Bentrik nodded.

Then, slowly, he repeated his screen-combination twice. "Come in, Moonbase; this is Simon Bentrik, Prince-Protector, speaking." He waited ten seconds, and was about to start again, when the screen flickered. The man who appeared in it wore the insignia of a Mardukan navy commodore. He needed a shave, but he was grinning happily. Bentrik greeted him by name. "Hello, Simon; glad to see you.

They'd have detection, and he knew what they were detecting a clump of sixteen rending distortions of the fabric of space-time, as sixteen ships came into sudden existence in the normal continuum. Beside him, Bentrik had a screen on; it was still milky-white, and he was speaking into a radio hand-phone. "Simon Bentrik, Prince-Protector of Marduk, calling Moonbase."